Free (or Cheap) Fun in Colleyville, Texas

A throwback of a general store and cupcakes on demand make this top Tarrant County suburb a treat.

If you can't find what you're looking for at Foreman's General Store, you're not looking hard enough. photography by Ryan Jones
The best suburbs of Dallas
 are clearly great places to live, but should you want to visit them? D Magazine online editorial intern Ryan Jones was dispatched to make a day of it in each of our top-ranked cities.The challenge: he’s got only $5 at his disposal. He’s already explored 
Highland Village. Now he travels to Colleyville, No. 3 in 
our 2010 ratings.

I’ve never been drawn to stand-and-stare-from-a-sterile-distance-type attractions. That’s not to say I haven’t given them a chance. I stopped by a few spots of historical renown in Colleyville — John Rueben Webb’s family home, which was built around 1914, and the old dairy farm that houses McPherson Park — but I left both places feeling uninspired.

I like more functionality with my history lessons, which is why I found Foreman’s General Store so fascinating. It hasn’t been around as long as either of the aforementioned historical havens, but it’s one of the older retail spots in the city, predating Colleyville’s current suburban state.

The city was rural when Greg Foreman first opened his store in 1976. “There was just a two-lane road and pastures around us,” says Foreman, who still owns the store with his wife. In more than 30 years, Colleyville has grown around Foreman’s, spawning dozens of businesses nearby and forcing Foreman to update his inventory. The shop that started out only selling animal feed has added seed, fertilizer, lawn equipment, grills, home brewing kits, and even a line of gourmet hot sauce to its shelves, and that doesn’t come close to covering everything.

The odd collection of merchandise hasn’t fazed the loyal clientele. After doing $17,600 in business its first year, Foreman’s now pulls in revenue that stretches to seven digits, and the space has expanded from a small 2,500-square-foot storefront to a massive plot of land that includes six storage warehouses out back. Just how big is it?

“6,000 square feet?” I guessed.

Mr. Foreman frowns. “One of those warehouses alone is probably bigger than 6,000 square feet,” he says.

OK, so math’s not my strong suit, but you get the idea. Inside the store, windsocks hang from the ceiling, birdhouses cover an entire wall, and dogs roam the aisles and curl up in beds beneath the cash register.

Having finished up a little post-lunch perusing and ready (as always) for a snack, I dropped into the LeSara Cupcake Bar in the Town Center complex. Owned by husband and wife Dan and Susan Lott, LeSara is set up in stations. When you walk in, plates full of different flavors of unadorned cupcakes are the first thing to draw your eye. Though the menu changes on a weekly basis, you can almost always find classics like vanilla, chocolate, and red velvet, and a gluten-free option.

Once you pick your favorite flavor, shuffle to your right to pick out your frosting (chocolate, vanilla buttercream, cream cheese, orstrawberry, among others), then repeat with toppings.  I opted for a chocolate with vanilla buttercream and chocolate sprinkles — which was good — and a straight strawberry with strawberry (even better). LeSara stays open until the cupcakes run out, which, according to Dan, is usually about 5 pm during the week and 4 pm on the weekends. They’re open Tuesdays through Saturdays.

The little-known Colleyville Nature Center is well worth a visit on a pleasant day.

With the hunger pangs gone and my sugar rush in full effect, I needed a way to kill a few hours and burn off my post-cupcake energy. So I headed to the Colleyville Nature Center, a big park and refuge that, as one Colleyville city employee said, “almost no one knows exists.” The Nature Center spans more than 40 acres with hiking and biking trails, picnic tables, and charcoal grills spread throughout. I showed up at 2:30 on a Tuesday afternoon, and, not surprisingly, had the park mostly to myself.

I meandered a few miles on the trails, weaving through thick clusters of trees that provided enough shade to make the heat bearable. It wasn’t until I came to a clearing near one of the center’s nine ponds that I hated myself for wearing jeans in 100-degree weather. As I ventured farther, I discovered pond after pond almost by accident, and each one had its distinctive environment. Some were out in the open, almost feeling like an extension to the backyards of adjacent homes. Others were more closed off, encased by trees and isolated from the rest of the park, making them great spots to collect your thoughts or just take in the scenery.